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SoCal Has Water Reserves That Will Last Through This Year, Beyond

One of the keys to solving the effects of severe drought in California by keeping the water supply high is drought-tolerant landscaping.

Jerry Kohn, CEO of Edify Landscape Design, said it makes all the difference in conserving water compared to grass yards.

Marin Water District Restricts New Landscaping for Development

New development projects in most of Marin won’t have new landscaping irrigated with drinking water under drought restrictions imposed by Marin Municipal Water District this week.

The Board of Directors voted Tuesday to approve the ban aimed at preserving the district’s dwindling reservoir supplies in the Mount Tamalpais watershed amid severe drought conditions. The district estimates it could run out of reservoir supplies by next summer if the region experiences a similarly historic dry winter as last year and conservation efforts do not improve.

Lauren Grey's new landscaping filled with vibrant blooming plants is the 2021 Vista Irrigation District Landscape Makeover Contest winner. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Trio of Waterwise Landscapes Win Vista 2021 Contest

Three homeowners in the Vista Irrigation District won recognition recently from the VID board of directors in its 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient irrigation methods.

Lauren Grey's landscaping before its winning makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Lauren Grey’s landscaping before its winning makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Winning plan solves erosion problem with beautiful blooms

The “Best in District” award went to Lauren Grey. What started as a project to halt the rush of soil down a steep front slope turned into a multi-hued garden with a view from the top. Grey renovated her front slope and landscape by installing retaining walls surrounded by beds of colorful blooms. She lined the staircase zigzagging through the hillside with a variety of potted succulents. Bright orange poppies, lush green jade, silvery Ghost Plants, and Purple Heart Tradescantia dot the slope.

Lauren Grey’s landscaping solved her problems with a troublesome slope. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The winning result is an explosion of color. “What fun to have a beautiful garden and a sweet place to sit and contemplate it all!” said Grey.

“With rebates available for turf removal, now is a great time to replace your lawn with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape,” said Brent Reyes, VID water conservation specialist.

Drought-tolerant results receive recognition

Homeowners Deborah Brandt and Dorothy Wagemester received honorable mentions for their outstanding projects.

The "before" look at the Wagemester landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The “before” look at the Wagemester landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The Wagemesters wanted to conserve water and create an inviting natural haven on their property. A meandering hardscape pathway lined with a vibrant palette of drought-tolerant choices, including bougainvillea, trailing buttercups, sea lavender, and Cape plumbago replaced turf with a native garden.

The Wagemester home's attractive new waterwise landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The Wagemester home’s attractive new waterwise landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Magenta blooms of an Eastern Redbud tree pop against foxtail agaves and Kaleidoscope Abelia.

“While spring is our favorite season, we now have color all year long,” said Dorothy Wagemester.

Deborah Brandt's landscaping before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Deborah Brandt’s landscaping before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt wanted to transform her plain backyard into a magical place. She started with river rock and added cactus and succulents in multiple shapes and sizes. Over time, she mixed in yard art and chimes, creating charming surprises. Brandt installed drip irrigation and two rain barrel water collection systems to reduce her water use.

The Brandt home with its new drought-tolerant landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The Brandt home with its new drought-tolerant landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt “gave away the lawnmower” due to the transformation into a low-maintenance, WaterSmart paradise where flowers bloom year-round.

(Editor’s note: The Vista Irrigation District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Padre Dam Municipal Water District-Landscape Makeover Winner-WaterSmartSD-drought

Hard Work Pays Off for Padre Dam Landscape Makeover Winner

Frank Edward’s Santee home is bursting with bright colors and textures. Vibrant yellow, orange, red, green, and purple flowers, and drought-tolerant, native plants spring to life where there was once just dry and patchy grass.

“It was a lot of hard work but it was also a lot of fun,” said Edward. “It was great to see all of my labor come to fruition.”

The transformation from high maintenance lawn to vibrant design is the winner of the 2021 Padre Dam Municipal Water District Landscape Makeover Contest.

Before transformation

Frank Edward'a home before his award-winning landscape. Photo: Padre Dam Landscape Makeover

Frank Edward’s home before his award-winning landscape redesign. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

After transformation

The results of Frank Edward's hard work. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

The results of Frank Edward’s hard work. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Edward began his water-efficient landscape journey in 2018 when he attended a three-hour WaterSmart Landscape Workshop at Padre Dam’s customer service Center. He was tired of his high maintenance, drought-bleached lawn and wanted his landscape to add to the overall attractiveness of his home.

During the workshop, he learned about the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series, a four-class series that helped him through the process of preparing his space, designing his landscape, selecting plants, and irrigation planning. Edward used a kidney bean shaped planter as a starting point and designed his landscape around this feature.

“Hard work but a lot of fun” to complete landscape makeover

Frank Edwards had a complete plan after attending the Water Authority's WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series. Photo: Frank Edwards Padre Dam Landscape Makeover

Frank Edwards had a complete plan after attending the San Diego County Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series. Photo: Frank Edwards

Edward had a fully designed layout ready to be implemented by the end of the class series. He set to work removing his old turf and installing his new landscape in the spring of 2019 and did all of the removal, designing, and planting himself. He even constructed a small barn that acts as a shed and a footbridge over his riverbed to add unique and functional design elements. The work took about a year to complete. Water storage features including a small pond and rock river bed, which add depth and shape to the contoured yard.

The new yard has places to sit and enjoy the flowers, pollinators, and bird. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

The new yard has places to sit and enjoy the flowers, pollinators, and birds. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Edward installed piping to collect water off his roof, collected in a rain barrel, and diverts it to the landscape’s rock river bed. Additionally, he created a pond that can hold several hundred gallons of water. This collected rainwater helps to irrigate the plants by replenishing the soil’s moisture for a period after it rains. Edward also installed a smart controller that waters the plants based on hydrozones and local weather through a drip irrigation system.

Neighbors compliment Frank Edward on his efforts. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Edward now spends time relaxing and listening to birds in his front yard. He enjoys the peaceful atmosphere and the satisfaction he gets when neighbors and passersby compliment his landscape. He recommends that others looking to plant a water-smart landscape put in the time to research and plan in order to create an environment and design that will work for their lifestyle.

“Hard work and a well-thought-out plan certainly paid positive results,” said Edward. “It was a great success.”

(Editor’s note: The Padre Dam Municipal Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Amid Escalating Drought, Bay Area Residents Slow to Cut Back on Water Use

As the sun began to rise over Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village neighborhood, the headlights of a city work truck brought into view utility official Shiloh Jones’ target: wasted water.

Jones, part of Santa Rosa’s newly formed “water waste patrol,” had spotted a puddle on the sidewalk and traced it to a runaway irrigation system in a bed of pink roses.

With Drought Worsening, Should California Have Much Tougher Water Restrictions?

When Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Californians to voluntarily conserve water last week as he stood in front of the retreating shoreline at Lopez Lake in San Luis Obispo County, some must have had déjà vu.

It was only six years ago when former Gov. Jerry Brown stood in a field near Lake Tahoe that was bereft of normally plentiful snow and called for water restrictions amid the state’s punishing years-long drought.

Native plants-drought-City of Escondido-Landscape Makeover

Native Plants Garden Wins 2021 Escondido Landscape Makeover Contest

As California experiences another drought cycle, homeowners in the San Diego region continue to makeover their landscapes with native plants that need less water. An Escondido couple recently transformed their landscape to save water and won the City of Escondido Landscape Makeover Contest too.

Escondido homeowners Michael and Teresa Everett first learned about the 2021 Escondido Landscape Makeover Contest from Escondido family-owned El Pantio Nursery. It was the motivation they needed to makeover their landscaping with native plants.

“As concerned Californians, we wanted to do our part to lessen our impact on San Diego county’s water resources,” said Teresa Everett. “We decided to switch to a waterwise landscape using all California native plants. Landscaping with native plants can reduce water usage by 60% or more. There is also a reduction in one’s carbon footprint as there is no need for mowing or trimming lawns.”

The Everett home before their landscaping makeover. Photo: Courtesy Michael and Teresa Everett

Landscaping supports local ecosystem

The new garden provides habitat for native insects, birds, animals, and people too. Photo: City of Escondido native plants

The new garden provides habitat for native insects, birds, animals, and people too. Photo: City of Escondido

The Everetts also reduced yard waste and the need for soil additives since California native plants are adapted to the lean clay soil in San Diego County.

While the environmental reasons were compelling, the Everetts also wanted to create a habitat garden that was both beautiful and supported the local ecosystem.

“California is in the top 25 most bio-diverse areas in the world,” the couple pointed out. “Our housing developments have crowded out native plants. Native plants have evolved to provide exactly the right food in exactly the right package to attract and feed the animals that are unique to our California environment.”

The Everetts' landscaping shows it's possible to have a lush yard and still be waterwise. Photo: City of Escondido native plants

The Everetts’ landscaping shows how to create a lush yard and be waterwise. Photo: City of Escondido

The Everetts planted native trees, including Coastal live oak, Western sycamore, Western redbud, and Palo Verde Desert Museum. They added shrubs, including manzanitas, ceanothus, Mexican elderberry, salvias, desert mallow, and wooly bluecurls. California fuchsias, San Diego sunflowers, and Pacific irises add color. Grasses and vines round out the landscape palette.

“Ever since we re-landscaped, we have observed a huge increase in birds, lizards, butterflies, and other pollinators in our yard. Waterwise native gardens are also extremely beautiful,” said the couple.

Irrigation needs reduced using native plants

Salvias and poppies provide color in the landscaping plan. Photo: City of Escondido native plants

Salvias and poppies provide color in the landscaping plan. Photo: City of Escondido

After the makeover, the Everetts rarely need to irrigate their landscape between late fall and late spring. During drier months, the landscape is irrigated twice monthly. The homeowners also maintain a vegetable and herb garden using rainwater collected in two rain barrels with 260-gallon capacity and by hand when necessary.

“We now spend many hours relaxing and bird watching in our yard,” said the Everetts. “Our outdoor space is now a much more enriching experience that gives us a greater sense of our connection to nature and a sense of place.”

The landscaping plan includes features like this dry riverbed. Photo: City of Escondido native plants

The landscaping plan includes features like this dry riverbed. Photo: City of Escondido

“By re-landscaping our small property, we hope to take one small step in restoring San Diego county’s rich biodiversity. Sharing the successes of our garden with others will hopefully encourage other homeowners to convert their gardens to water and habitat smart landscapes.”

Find tips on how to create a WaterSmart home and garden, including details on rebates: www.watersmartsd.org/

(Editor’s note: The City of Escondido is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Northern California Is Working To Conserve Water To Have Some Left Over For Crops

Drought-stricken reservoirs and rivers in Northern California mean painful water cutbacks for farmers and towns. Some are trying hard to conserve to avoid even worse to come.

Rosalie Dosik-Helix Water District-Landscape Contest-WaterSmart

Unused Pool Transformed into Helix Water District 2021 Landscape Contest Winner

Mount Helix homeowner Rosalie Dosik turned her unused pool into a waterwise backyard oasis and the winning project in the Helix Water District 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The annual competition recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

The original backyard with the unused pool. Photo: Helix Water District

The original backyard with the unused pool. Photo: Helix Water District

Dosik’s bright and textured landscape represents years of dedicated passion for gardening and water-efficient plants. The garden features an Asian-fusion theme complete with wooden structures, pathways, rock, and vibrant color. It uses many drought-tolerant plant species well adapted for the San Diego region’s semi-arid region climate.

The transformed backyard with the unused pool filled in. Photo: Helix Water District

The transformed backyard with the unused pool filled in. Photo: Helix Water District

When the Dosiks bought their house in 1997, a large pool filled the backyard. The pool evaporated quickly in the summer and overflowed towards the house during winter rains.

Rosalie Dosik wanted a landscape she could enjoy more than the rarely used pool. So in 2012, Dosik decided to have the pool demolished and filled with decomposed granite. After adding topsoil and completing her landscape design, she now enjoys it daily.

Water Conservation Garden provides inspiration

The garden includes meandering pathways, each offering different scenery and views. Photo: Helix Water District

The garden includes meandering pathways, each offering different scenery, and views. Photo: Helix Water District

Several rock streams flow down the landscape into a gravel rock pond. The gravel area creates negative space, allowing the eye to rest so visitors can better sense and appreciate the landscape. True to its Asian theme, the garden includes meandering pathways, each offering different scenery, and views.

“Now, one can meander through the garden and enjoy the scenery,” said Rosalie Dosik. “There are birds and wildlife galore. The entire backyard is cooler and more serene. I have rabbits who visit each day, and I am even seeing monarch butterflies.”

The Asian-theme garden attracts birds and butterflies. Photo: Helix Water District unused pool

The Asian-theme garden attracts birds and butterflies. Photo: Helix Water District

Rosalie Dosik volunteers as a docent at the Water Conservation Garden. She discovered the garden in 2004 after visiting the adjacent Heritage of the Americas Museum at Cuyamaca College. On Dosik’s many return visits, she wrote down the names of plants she liked and started gardening with them at home.

Efficient irrigation uses gear-driven rotors to apply water to the densely planted areas. Narrow areas and potted plants use drip irrigation. A weather-based irrigation controller automatically adjusts for rain and weather.

The Dosiks enjoy inviting guests over to enjoy their new outdoor space. Photo: Helix Water District

Dosik loves to have her friends over and entertain on the patio, where they can all enjoy the views of the garden.

“You can look left and right and just look at what is flowering,” said Dosik. “Of course, right now, everything is flowering.”

Dosik was recognized as the 2021 landscape contest winner at the Helix Water District’s virtual board meeting on June 23.

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

As the Drought Persists, Here’s How Phoenix is Prepared

Water is a precious resource in a desert city like Phoenix. Community members understand the importance of water conservation to keep the city thriving. Unlike other areas in the southwest, Phoenix is not in a water shortage. While the drought is serious, Phoenix is prepared.

Over 20 years into the current drought, Phoenix continues to have access to several water supplies, including Salt, Verde, and Colorado River, groundwater reserves, and reclaimed wastewater for crops and sustainable activities. Investments in infrastructure, strategic and innovative planning on behalf of city leaders, and long-standing water conservation programs are just some of the reasons why water supplies in Phoenix will remain in good shape.